Indiana grappled with Maryland through every twist and turn. The Hoosiers would have no future after the Big Ten tournament if they didn’t stay alive.
The Terps had every opportunity to end Indiana’s season. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with only one out for Maryland, it looked more than over. One knock would send the Terps on a date with Rutgers on a nightcap match-up.
But Indiana got the outs they needed, and proceeded to duke it out with Maryland in extra-innings. The Hoosiers got their bases-loaded shot in the 11th with two outs.
Unlike the Terps, they took advantage. The Hoosiers got their hit: a roller to center that gave ample time for their runners to trot onto home-plate for the winning runs. Maryland couldn’t respond.
Indiana triumphed over Maryland in extra-innings, 6-4, and the Terps will now await NCAA Tournament seeding on May 30.
Maryland had not played characteristically well so far in the Big Ten Tournament. The Terps went the distance with eighth-seeded Indiana as they went cold at the plate and found themselves downed by an explosive Michigan team that kept pouring it on.
One might hope an elimination-game against Indiana would spur Maryland into embodying what it had been throughout the season: dynamic and consistent. But the Terps inspired no change early.
[Maryland baseball outpaced by Michigan in second round of Big Ten tournament, 15-8]
Nick Dean took the mound and wrapped a quick top of the first with two strikeouts, and Indiana starter Jack Perkins walked three Maryland batters to the dugout on eight pitches.
Dean did his job well enough overall in the early frames outside of a walk and a single in the second that led to a sac fly run. But his team didn’t support him much.
Maryland’s defense faltered in the third as Nick Lorusso erred on the first at-bat to allow a base-runner. Chris Alleyne made a crucial pair of mistakes on a misjudge of a bloop in center which he then overthrew to third to allow a run.
The Terps faced a 2-0 deficit with little going their way. Then Troy Schreffler, who had performed well throughout the tournament with six hits in the first two games, dug into the box. He softly-cracked a perfectly placed roller in the right-field gap to score Matt Shaw in the fourth.
Chris Alleyne followed it up in the next frame with a key drop in center on an RBI single to tie the game up. Optimism flared for Maryland. But Indiana quickly quelled the Terps’ hopes as Dean allowed a pair of doubles, the latter of which put the Hoosiers ahead by one.
Nigel Belgrave took over for Dean and landed a strikeout to end the inning after a close call at third that was called safe to load the bases.
The game remained inconclusive until Indiana handed Maryland a break in the sixth. Max Costes, looking to move runners at first and second, popped a bunt fortuitously over Indiana pitcher Braydon Tucker’s head. In his desperation, he airmailed a ball to first.
The Terps’ runners scrambled home to swing the game in Maryland’s favor for the first time on the day. Costes would come up limping after taking the turn to second, but he finished the inning as the Terps sustained three straight outs.
[Maryland baseball avoids Big Ten tournament collapse, walks off Indiana, 6-5, in 11 innings]
Maryland, absent much consistent offense, relied on relievers Sean Heine and Gavin Stellpflug to get them out of the seventh and eighth cleanly — which they did.
Indiana nudged a runner home on a double-play from Maryland in the ninth to give the Terps another potential walk-off opportunity. But the Hoosiers, like on Thursday, repelled Maryland’s late efforts to send it into extras again.
Both teams proved ineffective at the plate in the tenth as the match continued to be a no-decision heading into the 11th. Freshman Michael Walsh did admirably as managed a clean tenth and got two batters out with a runner on in the 11th.
That’s where it all went wrong. Walsh intentionally walked a batter, then walked another to load the bases. Will Glock came on for Walsh, and he couldn’t take Maryland from the brink. A two-RBI hit from the Hoosiers gave the Terps a decent deficit to recover from in the bottom half.
And even with a base runner on, and Alleyne up with two outs, Maryland couldn’t do it.
The Terps will have a couple of days to ponder the loss until their likely NCAA tournament bid comes to fruition.